Sloth bear cub, Hank, makes his debut at National Zoo

by Savannah Simons, special to

WASHINGTON – A 6-month-old sloth bear cub is meeting the public for the first time at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Zookeepers say Hank has become adept at climbing, giving him the ability to explore the yard’s terrain and complex structures. Hank got his name through a vote of the Zoo’s Facebook fans. More than 800 fans chose Hank, which is a combination of the cub’s parent’s names, Hana and Francois.

“Sloth bears in general are full of personality, but watching Hank explore and play in his yard is especially endearing,” said Mindy Babitz, an animal keeper at the zoo said in a news release.

Hank was the first sloth bear born at the zoo in seven years, on Dec. 19, 2012. He is one of seven sloth bear cubs born to the North American Species Survival Plan this year.

Hank and his mother, Hana, are located in a yard on the zoo’s “Asia Trail,” near the cheetah exhibit.

See Hank make his debut here:

Hank and Hana can be viewed by visitors daily from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. daily.

On the zoo website, a live Sloth Bear Cub Cam is available where the public can watch Hank play, dig his snout into the dirt, and jump on his mother’s back. On June 20, the camera was out of service but the website says it will be back up and running.

Visitors can see more photos of Hank’s first day of public viewing here.

With only 18 zoos in the U.S. that exhibit the sloth bear, this exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to experience something special, as well as see a baby sloth cub grow up.

Along with the sloth bear exhibit, the zoo offers a pair of twin Andean bear cubs, five new seals, and several new species at the Cheetah Conservation Stations, including two Sitatunga, one red river hog, two Abysinnian ground hornbills.

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